Mike started his working life as an astrophysicist and made his way into tourism via the scuba diving industry. He built one of Australia's first backpacker




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НазваниеMike started his working life as an astrophysicist and made his way into tourism via the scuba diving industry. He built one of Australia's first backpacker
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Land animals (medium): Australia is home to some of the world's most venomous snakes yet most Australians rarely encounter one. I've never seen a snake in my garden. I see them occasionally when bushwalking and I see a lot when I go trout fishing. The Australian bush is full of snakes. Trout fishermen see them because they creep around and don't make their presence felt. I thump around when I go bushwalking. That way snakes are likely to hear me and get out of my way. The danger times are when the snakes are inactive. That happens in early spring when they are coming out of hibernation, in the cool of the day and when they are casting off a skin. I take a snakebite kit with me when I go walking. You can make one up from instructions at www.radoa.com/ or buy one. They are not expensive.

Land animals (small): Our scorpions have a nasty sting and some of our spiders are deadly. When camping, I'm careful to shake out my shoes before putting them on and I wear gloves when gardening.

Sea animals: Australian beaches harbour more perils than those in the colder parts of the world. Added to the danger of drowning we have a variety of marine animals that can cause injury and death. These include sharks, jellyfish, stonefish and the blue ringed octopus. That doesn't mean that you can't swim in safety. Our main beaches are protected by shark nets and patrolled by lifeguards. I recommend that you do not swim elsewhere without expert local advice. I've had some close encounters with sharks (of the white pointer variety) and have a lot of respect for them. Remember that the box jellyfish (pictured above) is common on tropical beaches during the summer months. It causes death within minutes and claims victims most years. The treatment in CPR followed my medical evacuation. Of all the risks, it is potentially the most serious. Don't swim in tropical coastal waters in the summer without full-body protection.

Wild fires: Australia is a land or extremes. Flood is followed by drought. Vegetation grows abundantly and dries out. Native trees are packed with combustible oils. Fire danger goes through the roof periodically. Fire bombs are created in the mist of oils that collects above trees, particularly gum trees. Fires can flash across immense distances at unbelievable speeds. National Parks authorities shut parks when the danger of fire is high. They are not there to warn you in other areas and you must exercise your own discretion on bush walks and picnics.


13 Awesome jobs



When we had our backpacker hostel in Townsville, North Queensland, we got to hear about lots of different ways to earn money on holiday. Most were ordinary but others were extraordinary. There are some unusual and exciting jobs for those who are prepared to find them. The pay is not always the greatest but they can lead to some interesting experiences and take you to places you wouldn't otherwise see.

Geologist's assistant: Over the years, we had a dozen or so guests who managed to land this one. They stayed at our hostel when they were on leave. I don't know what they were paid but they always booked into private rooms. Some had qualifications in geology. Most didn't. All were physically fit, outward-going and (with one memorable exception) male. They were flown all over northern Australia. A typical assignment would be a helicopter-drop in a creek bed. There, they collected samples and waited to be picked up. Jobs like this come and go. My contacts tell me they still exist. If you think you can find one, devote the time and energy to hunt around. Explore the web pages of Australian exploration and mining companies. Think about what you have to offer and present yourself clearly when you contact them. Don't lie: the mining and exploration people have an eagle eye for crap artists.

Marine scientist's dive buddy: Divers need buddies for safety reasons. Marine scientists are no exception and volunteers sometimes provide that service. I know nothing about pay. I do know that a dedicated diver will have opportunities that money can't buy. There was a time when all you needed was an Open Water Diving Licence. Those days have long since gone in Australia and you will require far higher qualifications now.

Biologist's assistant: Biologists go on field trips and need company for various reasons. One is security. It's not always safe to wander around the Australian bush by yourself, particularly if you are female. There is safety in numbers. We had frequent requests from universities for suitable people to accompany research staff on expeditions. Students usually perform that function but are not available during term time. That provides opportunities for those of you who live in the Northern Hemisphere. Your academic year is out of phase with ours. If you want to be a biologist's assistant (or archaeologist's, geologist's etc) during your long vacation, do a bit of research. Find out which universities and research institutes are engaged in your field of study. Contact the relevant department and be prepared to follow up with a testimonial from your uni/college. It's unlikely that you will be paid but you should be able to save money through free tucker (Aussie for grub) and accommodation.

Working on a dive boat: Quite a lot of my guests got jobs on dive boats taking tourists to the Great Barrier Reef. Some were instructors, others were divemasters, many had no diving qualifications beyond the basic open water certificate. Dive boats need auxiliary staff. Someone has to fill scuba tanks, cook and clean while qualified staff supervise diving and skipper the boat. Qualified staff are paid. Auxiliaries usually work for a chance to go diving between shifts. You won't make much money (if any) as a volunteer crew member but you should save money and have a lot of fun. One way to get a job is to front up at a dive shop. If you've already had crewing experience, that's a plus. Many get their first job by going out as paying passengers. They talk to senior staff and make themselves known. Personality counts a lot. A friendly, helpful crew is essential to a good dive operation. Make sure you come over as that sort of person.

Working on a cruise boat: Cruise boats, like dive boats, need staff to serve in their restaurants, wash dishes and so on. They even have work for hosts and hostesses. These latter jobs are particularly appealing and preference is given to people with skills such as marine science or a knowledge of the local area and its people. As with most job hunting, luck comes into it when securing a position. One memorable young lady failed to get a hostess job despite my recommendation. She had a pleasant manner and was of Polynesian ancestry. I found a frangipani flower for her hair and she went for an interview only to be turned down. The problem was her accent, which was the sort that can only be obtained by attending an expensive English boarding school. In short, she looked the part but didn't sound right. An older guest was more successful. He knew nothing of marine science or the local area but was an interesting character with a store of jokes and a manner that brought people together. He secured a job as "master of ceremonies".

Entertainer: There's money to be made and all sorts of ways to do it. I had street entertainers staying with me and some did very well. A licence from the local authority was needed and they had to front up for an audition. Buskers, pavement artists, jugglers and acrobats were amongst my guests. We even had an out-of-work Shakespearian actor who used to smear himself with chalk and dress up as Hamlet's father. From time to time, young ladies from a well-known Australian dance group stayed at the hostel. They worked at the casino and entertained patrons with displays of modern theatrical dancing, performing with their clothes on. Other young ladies danced in nightclubs and ended the performance with their clothes off.

Dinosaur research: You won't get paid and you won't save money but it could be a great experience. So many dinosaur bones are being found near Winton, in outback Queensland, that help is needed to get them ready for expert examination. Training is provided. Further information: www.australianageofdinosaurs.com/

Outback farm: The correct name is property. Americans would call them ranches. They are so big that the English name farm doesn't apply. While we ran our hostel we were able to provide a steady stream of people for properties out west. Some did domestic work, caring for children and the like. Others worked with the animals (cattle and sheep). It was a mutually beneficial arrangement and I never heard anything but praise from both sides. If you are thinking of taking such a job, bear in mind that you will be living in an isolated location. In some of the remoter areas, your nearest neighbours could be fifty or more kilometres away. If you are thinking of working with animals it's as well to have prior experience. Being able to ride a horse helps. Most of all, you must be prepared to work hard and put up with tough conditions. The farming industry's web page provides detailed information: www.aussiefarmjobs.com.au

Environment: If you want to care for the environment or be a willing helper on an organic farm visit the web pages of the Australian Conservation Volunteers or WWOOF.


14 Ordinary Jobs



Australia has a significantly lower unemployment rate than most developed countries and many businesses are happy to employ travellers from overseas. A work visa is needed for paid employment and you can apply for it through government channels www.ecom.immi.gov.au/visas. Or you may pay an agency to make the application for you. There is no shortage of them advertising their services on the net.

Fruit Picking: Whether it's apples in Tasmania or bananas in Queensland, backpackers and other travellers play a vital role at harvest time. Information on jobs is available at the fruit growers web site www.fruitpicking.org.australia .

Restaurants, hotels and bars are places where many Backpackers find work. Big cities have recruitment agencies specialising in this sort of employment. You can use them but it is not essential. The manager of one agency recently told me that a good way for a traveller to find work is to go door knocking. A few simple rules apply. Don't turn up at a busy time. Ask to speak to the manager. Don't dress in holiday clothes. White shirt/black bottoms and closed shoes are generally acceptable. Hair neat and tidy, including facial hair (guys). Nail varnish either on or off and not broken (girls). Remove facial piercings. Be prepared to offer a free shift to prove yourself. First impressions are crucial. Decisions are usually made in the first thirty seconds.

Other casual employment: Many businesses use casual labour. Large firms, such as cleaning contractors, employ lots of people. Smaller outfits take one or two. Opportunities vary from time to time and place to place. I now live on the Gold Coast and see backpackers carrying advertising boards. Others are knocking on my door trying to sell me thermal lagging or solar hot water systems. Talk to other travellers to get ideas. Big employers can be approached directly or through an agency. That doesn't mean you can't front up in person. Always remember the golden rule: look and act the part. If you want to work as a builders labourer, wear heavy boots and the rest of the gear when you arrive on site. Ask to speak to the boss and be prepared to join the builders labourers' union if that is required of you.

Skilled employment:

* www.mycareer.com.au

* www.jobsjobsjobs.com.au

* www.seek.com.au


15 Aussie English

In the 200 odd years since settlement, Australian English and British English have drifted apart. Words that met an untimely death in the old country have remained alive in Oz. New words have been invented. I'll stick to words and phrases that are so deeply entrenched that I have to remind myself that my British and North American friends might not understand what I'm saying. I hasten to add that I was born in the UK and retain some memory of how English was spoken in that country.

Ocker: vulgar speech: sometimes faked by middle-class Australians pretending to come from working-class backgrounds: developed to perfection by former Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke. Based on Oscar, a vulgar little larrikin in a 1960s TV series.

Larrikin: boisterous, often badly behaved young man. 19th century English dialect.

Galah: Stupid person. After the rosy cockatoo, famed for hanging upside down in the rain.

Tucker: food. From early 19th century British slang.

Mate: Used by people trying to be friendly and people with a bad memory for names.

Thongs: sandals, flip-flops. Not to be confused with the North American "G-string".

Wowser: censorious person. Used of killjoys trying to stop you having a good time.

Dunny: toilet. From Scottish dialect.

Thunder box: toilet.

Poor bastard: term of affection.

Clever bastard: term of abuse.

Bloody: very.

Mob: crowd. Used for both animals and people.

Wog: minor infection.

Hoon: lout, especially one who drives dangerously.

Dinkum: genuine, true, honest.

Sheila: girl or woman. From Irish form of Celia.

Crook: unwell.

Shonky: unreliable, dishonest.

Spiel: story. From German.

Wag: play truant.

True blue: worthy, genuine.

Bitumen: tarmac. Refers to sealed roads as opposed to dirt roads.

Creek: intermittent watercourse, usually steep-sided. Differs from American and British usage.

Billabong: water hole, particularly in a dry riverbed. Aboriginal.

Property/station: large farm or ranch. The British term "farm" didn't seem appropriate for the huge holdings allotted to early settlers.

Grazier: Someone who farms sheep or cattle.

She'll be right: Don't worry.

Good on yer: thanks.

Avag'day: goodbye.

Goodbye: God be with you. No longer used in that sense.

Gorblimey: struth. From "God blind me." Not much used anymore.

Wotcha: hullo. From "What hails you?" Not much used anymore.

Exercise

Translate the following:

A mate of mine (whose name I can't remember) had this spiel about a young larrikin who stole the school bus and went hooning with a mob of young sheilas. They wagged off down to the creek where he tried to impress the girls by burning rubber. The stupid galah was wearing thongs and got one stuck under the pedal. He lost control. The bus left the bitumen. He swerved to avoid a mob of cattle and ended up in a billabong. The grazier, who was droving the beasts, jumped in to rescue the kids. The poor bastard got a wog from the dirty water and he's now so crook he's confined to the station and spends half his time in the dunny.


16 FAQ (army grub)



Questions are frequently asked about the food served to soldiers serving in the Australian armed forces:

Q. Is it true the Australian army serves white ants to its soldiers?

A. No. The boys are expected to catch them for themselves.
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